Top Ten Songs About Time

Music Loves Those Hours And Minutes
time in a big pile
Time's a tricky little bugger. Whether it stretching out towards the infinite realms of space or grinding to a halt in some kind of crazy loop, it's what makes us all get out of bed in the morning and go to sleep at night. The world of music sure does love a ditty about the time equals distance over speed debate.

Some people don't believe time truly exists. They maintain that at the most fundamental realm of human reality, the universal concept becomes defunct. Now; it's all very well to have a theory and everything, but as these ten songs about time show, those scientific types are a bunch or crazy bastards.

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'Infinity' - The xx



This song is more depressing than watching a five hour documentary on Ian Curtis's mind. Still, it does a darn good job of expressing the claustrophobic feelings of life spent playing an infinite waiting game. Imagine, if you will, what it might feel like to fall in love only to be cruelly rejected. It would be rubbish wouldn't it? You'd spent your days wondering around a hellish terrain of abject misery, lamenting the good old days before the L-word shot a bullet in your heart. It doesn't matter if you've only really been suffering for a few days because, as this song by The xx proves, it will feel like forever. Boo bloody hoo.

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'Seven Year Ache' - Rosanne Cash



Country and heartache. They go together like key lime pie and coffee. Like ten shots of whisky and unconsciousness, and Johnny Cash's daughter Rosanne knows a thing or two about aches and relationship pains. Taken from the 1981 album of the same name, the song documents that moment of uncertainty after seven years of wedded bliss when the magic has died. He hates the way you look at him with those eyes and that hilarious story isn't quite as hilarious after the hundredth telling. It is of an almost irrefutable certainty that you both hate each others guts but that doesn't mean he can go gallivanting around with some cowboy hat wearing scank. It might have taken seven years to get to this point but the ache is going to last way into the future.

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'1901' - Phoenix



No one can say that Paris isn't a city on the move. It's filled with skyscrapers stretching towards the heavens and modern developments spill grandiosely throughout the place. But French electro outfit Phoenix couldn't give a toss about any of that. They're far more interested in Paris at the turn of last century, which is presumably why they wrote a song about it. As much as Thomas Mars et al have created an additive little slice of electro-pop, it's hardly a comprehensive history lesson. So, if you are studying for a degree in 20th century European history, don't use this as a study aid. The funky beat is distractingly catchy, plus you won't learn a damn thing.

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'One Month Off' - Bloc Party



Poor Kele Okereke seems to be in a constant state of relationship break-up, so much so that he needs to take a whole month off to work out what went wrong. On this occasion his latest partner is a Spanish guitar playing, suntanned bad influence and it's time for the chop. Released as a single in 2009 from their third studio album Intimacy, 'One Month Off' combines Bloc Party's usual mix of searing guitar and heartfelt lyrics. With the band currently on hiatus, they might not be back for an extended period but Kele will no doubt have time to break-up with someone else in the meantime.

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'Two Weeks' - Grizzly Bear



The video to this song looks like Pinocchio's four brothers have joined the Mormons and are on a mission to convert everyone with their heavenly voices and matching bow ties. Maybe Grizzly Bear felt that this would help better convey the virtues of patience and acceptance needed to make a relationship work, or maybe video director Patrick Daughters is just mental? Regardless of reason or sanity, 'Two Weeks' is a searing flourish of vocal harmonies and simplistic, yet perfectly constructed indie instrumental taken from the groups third, critically acclaimed studio album, 'Veckatimest'.

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'The First Big Weekend' - Arab Strap




You can achieve a lot in 48 hours but Scottish post-folk duo Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat prefer to spend it getting absolutely muntered. Taken from Arab Strap's 1996 début album, 'The First Big Weekend' is a drunken tale of intoxication and excess set on the first weekend of Summer in Glasgow. With its use of simplistic drum machine beats and spoken word verses, it sounds like a drunken pal talking your ear off in the pub. Radio One hailed it as the best song of the decade and with good reason. It's a modern day fable about the minutia's of life at the end of the 20th century, where twenty-something's live in a haze of drink and drugs. Oh, and The Simpsons get a mention too so it can't be all bad can it?

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'4 Minute Warning' - Radiohead



This song is about the complete annihilation of all human existence. Of course it is. It's written by Thom Yorke. It's a song about the threat of attack throughout the Cold War and that four minute warning is how long you get to run for cover. For a tune about death and destruction, it's surprisingly soothing, complete with Thom's usual heavenly wails and the steady plonk of a piano echoing in the distance. It's the kind of song you'd want played before you got blown to pieces in a horrific nuclear explosion. Just make sure you carry a copy of it with you at all times. After all, you never know when the Ruskies will finally strike.

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'12.51' - The Strokes



New York natives The Strokes love to drone on about time. Their songs 'last nite' 'someday' and 'the modern age' are all in some way related to the empirical measurement of space between events and the quantifiable motion of objects. This time though,(if you'll excuse the pun) Julian Casablancas has chosen to write about a very specific minute. It's at this point that the frontman in his younger years found the confidence to say what was on his mind to a pretty girl at a party. And if this completely unique moment, only relevant to one person in the world isn't justifiable song material for the masses, then what the hell is?

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'21 Seconds' - So Solid Crew



One of the main problems about being in an MC group with over 30 members is that at some point, everyone has to share mic space. This can be a complicated issue, especially if you only have one mic. So before any gun-fights broke out, So Solid Crew all got together to fairly calculate how much time each member had to 'go' or 'flow'. Luckily, Asher D had brought along a calculator with him that day so it didn't take long to work out that the amount of time was exactly 21 seconds. The song got to number one in August 2001, but was later knocked off pole position by 5ive. 5ive had far less members and as a consequence were able to sing for longer periods of time. So Solid could learn a thing or two from those guys.

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'Time Stops' - Teenage Fanclub



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If heartbreak seems to last forever then falling in love makes time completely stop. Teenage Fanclub have calculated this likelihood by writing a sugar-coated song about the theory, filled with twee lyrics and breezy vocals from Norman Blake. It sounds a little like what being stuck in a 1960s TV show would feel like. It's nice and comforting for a bit, but you wouldn't want to live this way forever. If time does stop when you fall in love, it's best to make sure this one's not playing. Who knows what kind of vortex you'll end up in.

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Words by Jess Austin

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